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The Reading Challenge - the results!

September 3, 2019


August's Reading Challenge resulted in a wide variety of reads. Thanks to everyone who took part - their choices and comments follow...

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. Recommended by a friend.

It's the story of Raynor and her husband Moth who through a series of unfortunate events end up losing everything and finding out that Moth has a serious, incurable illness. On impulse they decide that being homeless they might as well be homeless on the South West Way. What follows is a journey through grief, loss, the healing power of nature and the people they meet along the way. Miraculously Moth begins to feel better, against all the odds. This is nature writing at its best - 9 out of 10

NB A great companion to this account is Mark Wallington's 500 Mile Walkies. Mark decides to walk the South West Way in order to impress a girl. He takes a streetwise dog called Boogie as his travelling companion with hilarious results.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson. A 2019 paperback read.

This is enjoyable and well written chick lit to pack in your holiday suitcase. 8 out of 10

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted  by Robert Hillman. First published in 2019.

Set in Australia and concerns the unlikely romance of a sheep farmer Tom (abandoned by his wife who's also taken away his beloved son Peter) with Hungarian Auschwitz survivor Hannah who decides for some reason to open a bookshop in smalltown Oz. Whilst there are Auschwitz scenes, the direction and focus of the book is more about the healing nature of their relationship post WWII, though there are some more disturbing scenes around the cult-like religious organisation Tom's wife has joined. Those who read A Town Like Alice, will find the language and nature of Tom a familiar character. Overall, a good read rather let down by it petering out at the end. 7 out of 10.

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen. It is an unread book from my bookshelf; has been made into a film and it is more than 100 years older than me!

I have read the book before (just not this particular copy which is very old and was a school prize for my mother back in 1914).

Ghostly Echoes by Mai Griffin. The author is a friend, and recommended by husband and friend, plus unread on bookshelf since October 2018.

It is not my usual genre as I usually read Chick Lit. There are several stories interlinked. I enjoyed reading this book and would give it 9/10.

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. A favourite from childhood.

It reconnected me with the first books that got my imagination going. It wasn't as magical as I remembered it, but still a good read for children. Sadly I could only get hold of the modern version so some of the characters names had been changed. I gave it an 8 - mainly due to nostalgia, and the debt I owe it for my love of reading.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce.

We had all previously read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I enjoyed, so I gave it's companion book a try. This filled in all the gaps in the original story, and was an excellent, if at times a rather emotional tale, that was equally as good. I gave it 8.

And from Wendy's virtual bookshelf, who would try other books by these authors:

Last Seen by Lucy Clark was a book that didn't quite make the final choice at bookclub previously, I'd already brought it and finally got around to reading it. Interesting but lost it towards the end. 7 /10.

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscol, generally an enjoyable book kept you guessing most of the way through. 7.5/10.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell I think this was a Kindle cheapie, very enjoyable, told from the perspective of different characters, went slightly off at the end but still a decent read. 7.5/10. 

The photo at the top of this post was also shared with the UWI Facebook page and garnered the following 'Bakers Dozen' of recommendations (and therefore count for the Reading Challenge as ones made by friends!). Starred entries were mentioned several times:

  • A Keeper by Graham Norton

  • An American Marriage* by Tayari Jones

  • Circe by Madeline Miller

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine* by Gail Honeyman (also a top read for our Book Club)

  • Middle England by Jonathon Coe (though read The Rotters Club first)

  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans

  • Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulkes

  • The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (see also above)

  • The Spy and the Traitor* by Ben Macintyre

  • Transcription* by Kate Atkinson

  • Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Vox by Christina Dalcher

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Note: several other books were mentioned on contributor's To Read piles and therefore not included. Most of those listed are relatively new books, so worth a consideration for Book Club vote nominations next year once we know which ones are in good supply at the library.

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